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Sperm competition in sex-role reversed, polyandrous jacanas is intense because females copulate with multiple male mates before laying each clutch. These males may be unable to attempt to maximize their share of copulations by mate guarding or forcing copulations. Instead, males in polyandrous harems may compete for sexual access to the female by giving a call, termed the 'yell', to attract her. Male bronze-winged jacanas, Metopidius indicus, yelled at higher rates in larger harems, and when the female was further from the yeller or on a comate's territory. Half of all yells were given at mating platforms where all copulations occurred. Males that received the clutch yelled at lower rates during the incubation and chick care periods. Yells attracted the female when she was far from the yeller or with a comate. When the yell of a polyandrous male was broadcast from his territory, the female was more likely to fly to his territory during playback than during control periods. Within polyandrous harems the males that yelled at the highest rates received the most copulations, and three out of four females gave clutches to the male that gave the longest and most frequent yells, so females may have used yells to assess male quality. Intrusions by females, but not males, increased during yell playbacks, and tended to be more frequent on the territories of males with high yell rates. Females may therefore respond to their mates' yells because yells may attract female intruders which may attempt to take over the territory. Copyright 1999 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Original publication




Journal article


Anim Behav

Publication Date





637 - 646